• Short Summary

    The Prime Minister of South Africa, Mr.

  • Description

    GV Prime Minister P.W. Botha and other government officials walking towards camera.

    CU SV Botha speaking to reporters. (3 SHOTS)

    SV ZOOM INTO CU Dr. Van Zyl Slabbert speaking. (3 SHOTS)

    TRANSCRIPT: BOTHA: (SEQ 2) "I'm the Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa. I was Prime Minister this morning, I'm still Prime Minister, and I have the vast majority of members of Parliament behind me. I'm going on with the government, and I call on all South Africans to unite and to help me, and support me and my colleagues to solve the very serious problems of southern Africa. And we're determined to do so."

    REPORTER: "Would you like them (Cabinet members who voted against Botha) to stay on, or would you....?"

    BOTHA: "I'd like to see as many people support my point of view, and my leadership as possible, of course. But I can't force people to do so if they are not prepared to."

    VAN ZYL SLABBERT: (SEQ 3) "I think it's going to have a profound impact on politics in South Africa, and white politics in particular. You know the Nationalist Party has always been an ethnic political party, above all else. And this has enabled it to accommodate a variety of contradictory ideological positions. But what has happened now is that this ethnic unity is breaking up under ideological strain to a certain extent."

    REPORTER: "Have these events endangered Mr. Botha's position as Prime Minister?"

    VAN ZYL SLABBERT: "I don't think he's in immediate danger of losing his post, but he is definitely under pressure to give very clear guidance as to where he wants to go. You know, he cannot try and woo the right-wing back and at the same time keep some kind of momentum for reform going. The very dilemma that confronts him is that if he's going to find some kind of acceptable constitutional alternative to the present one, it must be such that it can be supported by those who are not in white politics, in other words coloured, blacks and Asians. On the other hand, if he does find that he is bound to alternate his right wing. So it's up to him to give clear guidance now."

    REPORTER: "Do you think he is going to now that he's shed the right-wing. Is he going to push through the reforms that he's talked about so much?"

    VAN ZYL SLABBERT: "That's the million dollar question. I simply don't know. It's up to him to give us a lead on this."

    REPORTER: "Is it more likely now that the split has developed that he will do this than he was before?"

    VAN ZYL SLABBERT: "It's easier to for him to do so now. In fact, I think it would be an ideal opportunity for him to now come forward with a clear declaration of intent to spell out exactly what he has in mind, politically, socially and economically, and to mobilise all the groups, not only white groups in South Africa, who are committed to reform and to an orderly and evolutionary change. If he doesn't do that, he's going to end up with the worst of all possible worlds, namely an alienated right-wing and a frustrated group of people who want reform, but cannot see any systematic programme coming forth."

    Initials JS

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: The Prime Minister of South Africa, Mr. P.W. Botha, has called upon South Africans to give his leadership more support following an unprecedented split vote on a motion of no-confidence at a meeting of his Parliamentary Party. At the parliamentary caucus meeting of the ruling National Party on Wednesday (24 February) in Cape Town, two cabinet ministers voted against their leader and opposed his declared intent to grant greater political rights to non-whites. Although Mr. Botha still had the support of 100 members present at the meeting, the breach is being interpreted as the first major split in the Party which has governed South Africa since 1948. Speaking later in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, Mr. Botha called on South Africans to unite and help him. Speaking in Cape Town, the opposition leader, Dr. Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, said that the unity of the National Party had been destroyed, and South African politics had entered a new phase. The cause of the dispute between the hard-line and centrist wings of the National Party is the issue of power-sharing with coloured people, which the President's Council is due to recommend shortly.

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